The purpose of this section is to give you a basic insight into the Psychology of Learning to Drive. The educational resource starts at the beginner stage, through the learning process and finishes after passing the practical test.
The beginner stage:
At this stage you will probably have a preconceived idea of how difficult it is to learn to drive, possibly based on horror stories from friends or watching Maureen on the Driving Test TV series. This idea will probably be inaccurate so keep an open mind. At this stage your ability to learn is totally at the mercy of your Driving Instructor. Basically your progress will depend on how confident you are, your understanding of driving and the ability of your instructor.
At this stage your instructor should explain, in a way you can understand;
* what you need to do
* how you do it
* If faults occur, what went wrong & how to put it right
* When you do well, tell you & explain why it went so well
Don't be afraid to make a mistake !! No one gets it right all the time !! but do try to learn from any mistakes using the 'Cause & Effect' thought process. there's much more about 'Cause & Effect' later.
Frequently mistakes are caused simply by a fear of getting it wrong, and when you do get it wrong this leads to more and more mistakes. Remember mistakes are an essential part of the learning process.
Learning to Drive:
You will initially think everything is really difficult and there's so much to remember.
This is because you are consciously having to think about everything you do, while at the same time taking in a ridiculous amount of new information.
However, during the learning process the skills you acquire begin to become 'second nature' and you are able to do stuff subconsciously, without having to think about it. This is when driving becomes easier.
The problem is your instructor will then be feeding you more information and skills to learn, plus the instructor won't be telling you what to do as much. Its like a gas cooker, sometimes the gas gets turned up to another level. This is one reason why you get some good lessons but occasionally also some poor ones.
Don't panic if you have a bad lesson, its part of the learning process, its probably just because the instructor has applied a bit more pressure & turned up the gas a little.
Enhance the learning process using 'Cause & Effect
When we train Driving Instructors we use Cause & Effect all the time, you can use it too when learning to drive.
The principle is to evaluate your own driving performance after every road situation you encounter, such as following a road junction or roundabout. Try giving yourself a mark out of ten & work out how you could have improved your performance. My students will tell you, I'm often asking them "tell me how you did at that junction."
If a mistake happens, think 'cause & effect'
Every fault will have an effect; that's what actually happens. But every mistake will also have a cause; that's what caused it to happen in the first place. Usually the cause and the effect will be different, so don't be like 99% of people who just see the effect, also think about what caused it to happen.
Lets have an example:
So, you approach a give way line too fast & panic and slam your brakes on.
The effect is you approached too fast and panicked. However, you think back, on this occasion the cause was actually you took too long to select second gear which meant you didn't brake enough !!
The cause of taking too long to get 2nd gear on this occasion was you're trying to carry out the gear change all in one movement instead of into neutral - across - then back; So actually the cause of the fault was your gear changing technique.
Think attitude !!!
Bear in mind your general attitude when driving. Drive defensively. This doesn't necessarily mean driving everywhere slowly, it means planning far ahead and reacting to hazards, and driving at a speed appropriate to those hazards as they develop at the time.
Also bear in mind at road junctions, roundabouts etc. the instructor & on your test your examiner are not looking at how fast you can take a junction, they are looking for control, safety and accuracy
At junctions and roundabouts people often worry about failing the test for hesitancy. This term hesitancy has nothing to do with how fast you approach (that would be marked 'speed on approach') or the speed you go around a junction (that would come under 'emerging') !! Its about judgement of the traffic situation.
A regular cause of failing the driving test is candidates will panic because they think they're being hesitant and take suicidal risks; remember if you can't go at a junction you can't go !!
"Every time theres a car behind I panic and stall the car !!!"
This can lead to all sorts of problems when driving because you can become fearful of stopping at junctions, because you think if you stop you will stall the car.
This is probably because you're focussed on the car behind and your fear of stalling, whereas you should be focussed on what your feet are doing. Try to ignore the car behind for a moment and focus on your feet, focus on where the biting point is and count 3 seconds as you raise the clutch the centimetre or so that it takes to bring the clutch over the biting point.
Take your time !! If you rush you will probably stall, which means you will be holding up the driver behind much longer. Better to just take your time and get it right.
Your point of focus is important in many situations, for example the Turn in the Road manoeuvre: When the road is clear you focus on what you are doing and it all goes well. Suddenly a car comes and it all goes badly. This is because you're then focussing on the car instead.
The solution, keep an eye on the car but focus on what you're doing.